District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming, who announced the indictments, said Reid manipulated four school projects to benefit Pope, and that Lewis signed off the changes, and that they benefited from gifts of sporting and theater tickets. Keyes Fleming said both of them concealed the changes and Pope’s involvement from the DeKalb School Board.
But that turned out to be small potatoes compared to the cheating scandal that first broke a year later:
Eighty-two of the teachers flat-out confessed. The 800-page report said the cheating has been going on for nearly a decade. It first came to light when the state noticed an alarming number of erasure marks on the answer sheets.
Teachers and principals were erasing the wrong answers and filling in the right ones, the report said. At one school, the faculty even held weekend pizza parties to correct answers before turning them in. Over the course of a single year, scores at the school jumped 45 percent.
And last month the ax fell:
Of 35 Atlanta educators indicted in 2013, more than 20 took a plea deal. Twelve educators went on trial six months ago, with 11 convicted and one acquitted on April 1.
Of the 11 convicted, two took a deal in which they admitted guilt, waived their right to appeal and received much lighter sentences. One defendant was giving birth during the sentencing phase not been sentenced.
This as you might guess has had an effect on Georgia votes opinions on charter schools as my collogue at watchdog Yaël Ossowski pointed out
An American Federation of Children poll conducted in January showed that 72 percent of Georgia voters support “innovative, self-governing, and highly accountable charter public schools,” demonstrating a great amount of public support.
But more interesting than people voting in polls is a report that came out earlier this month from Georgia State University on the effect on enrolment in charter schools vs public schools
The test-cheating scandal that rocked Atlanta’s public schools disproportionately affected African-American students and sparked a spike in the city’s charter school enrollment, Education Week reports.
Atlanta parents are voting with their feet, From the report:
Table 5 presents a breakdown of enrollment in APS traditional and charter schools by year for those students who were in a flagged classroom in 2008/09. There is some evidence that the cheating scandal lead to a movement away from traditional public schools and into the charter sector. There are fairly large increases in enrollment in charter schools in the two years after the revelation of teacher cheating, 2009/10 and 2010/11. After the 2010/11 school year the absolute enrollment in charters stabilizes, though the relative proportion continues to increase.
The report shows that the Charter school enrolment is up 229% over the figure from the year before the cheating scandal broke.
Those choices seem vindicated by Atlanta Neighborhood Charter school winning 2015 Georgia charter school of the year & a $50k grant from the Coca Cola Foundation
Yet one of those convicted invited to speak to the national action network to speak in Detroit says the entire scandal is all about attacking pubic schools:
Detroit leaders of NAN say the prosecution of teachers, administrators and others in this case is an effort to discredit and dismantle public education in urban cities. NAN president Rev. Charles Williams II says that there are similar efforts going on in Detroit.
“One of the first things to do if you want to dismantle it is discredit it,” Williams said. “So what they have done in Atlanta is they have discredited the Atlanta Public School system so the charter school industry can come back.”
This reaction might be fueled by the fact Georgia actually has not only charter schools but charter school systems and according to Atlanta magazine 65% of the charter schools in the state are part of such systems.
Conspiracy theories not withstanding according to a Stanford study charter schools in Atlanta which are serving a school population that is 58% in poverty while not showing the dramatic difference we’ve seen in Boston doing as well as systems like Boston are still outperforming their public counterparts
While some are still pointing to standard tests as the culprit in Atlanta the lesson is clear, Atlanta parents including many in poverty are choosing charter schools in greater numbers, it will be up to those Atlanta charter schools absorbing them to continue to give those parents reason to stay.